In the face of President Trump’s threatened tariffs on imported goods from China, there has been concern over what publishers are calling a potential “Bible tax.”
Thankfully, it looks as though there will not be tariffs imposed on Bibles.
According to Breitbart News, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) stated that, “Certain products are being removed from the tariffs list based on health, safety, and national security and other factors and will not face additional tariffs of 10 percent.”
China, while technically calling itself a unitary one-party socialist republic, is a communist dictatorship, and a militantly atheistic one at that. China is an incredibly hostile place for Christians so it’s rather surprising to learn that China produces around 75% of Bibles. How ironic that a country that imprisons pastors and shuts down Christian churches would produce so many copies of the Christian sacred text. The almighty dollar (or, in this case, the yuan) reigns supreme in China, apparently.
Ben Mandrell, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources stated, “For the past several months, there has been great concern among the Christian publishing community that our important work would be threatened by proposed tariff schedules,” he continued to say, “Today’s announcement by [USTR] has given us hope that the administration has heard our concern.”
This is good news for ministries who rely on affordable Bibles. It can be very costly to obtain and distribute large quantities of Bibles but nonetheless, it’s important work. Without the word of God, people cannot possibly come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. A tariff on imported Bibles most definitely have impeded this kind of work across our country and the world. . While China certainly doesn’t care about getting Bibles into the hands of as many people as possible, we can be thankful President Trump has taken the right stance, on this issue at least.
“These past months have strengthened our resolve to get Bibles to the people who need them,” Mandrell also said. “Our mandate is built on obedience to Christ, regardless of any policy proposals from Washington DC.”
The president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), Russell Moore, also shared Mandrell’s sentiment, saying, “Whatever one thinks about trade policy, the Bible should never have been a subject of this sort of taxation.”
Christians believe the Bible is the very word of God and, as Moore puts it, it is “central to our lives and mission.”
Despite the fact that Trump’s tariffs strategy has met criticism from opponents and supporters alike, we can be thankful that the Bible won’t be caught up in this trade war.
There remains, however, the arguably far more grievous issue of life for Chinese Christians and workers in general. Let’s pray that the Chinese people will have easier access to the word of God, which they ironically produce in such large quantities and yet don’t always have easy access to themselves as one of the most persecuted groups of Christians in the world
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